New West of England Metro Mayor must tackle region’s skills shortage, says JLL

Our new Metro Mayor must address the skills shortage in the region’s construction industry if it is to meet the housing and infrastructure needs of our local communities, says JLL.

Simon Peacock, lead director at property consultancy JLL in the South West and Wales, who is based in Bristol, said: “Whilst the election of our new Metro Mayor should mean a more strategic approach to crucial issues such as housing and transport, if the construction skills gap is not tackled, this will stand in the way of the delivery of such projects.”

Simon Peacock made the comments yesterday as the new Metro Mayor for Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset was being elected.

He said: “The UK lost around 300,000 construction workers in the years following the 2008 financial crisis and, of those remaining, 22 per cent are over 50 and 12 per cent are from the European Union. This means skills shortages may be further exacerbated given the government rhetoric around immigration policy, combined with the effects of the falling pound on the earning power of EU workers in their domestic currencies.”

Simon Peacock said that one of the consequences of the construction skills gap is rising build costs, meaning that as prices go up, the scale of the housing, infrastructure and other projects that can be delivered reduces.

He added that there is a real opportunity for the Department of Work and Pensions, Metro Mayor and Bristol Mayor to work together to support the unemployed back into the labour force, in particular the construction industry where skilled workers are so desperately needed.

Europe’s largest infrastructure project, Hinkley Point C, will also add pressure to this already stretched labour supply due to its sheer scale.

“I wholeheartedly welcome the move to have more control over local spending and there appears to be a real appetite for South Gloucestershire, BANES and Bristol to make this work. But it’s important that this momentum continues so that challenges around congestion, housing and skills are kept front of mind.

“As well as tackling the skills shortage, we need the Metro Mayor to take a fresh look at co-ordinated land allocation to ensure housing needs can be met at affordable prices and take bolder strategic decisions to meet the region’s transport infrastructure requirements.”